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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Flatwound For Strat

I want to put some flatwounds on my '91 AV57ri Strat as it is not my only guitar and I'd like to pretend I'm Buddy Holly back in to late 50's.

I had some 13s D'addario Chromes on a Fender Jag years ago. The Jag's short scale made the 13's playable. I've gone up to 12s on a strat before and they're quite heavy feeling so I was thinking 11's in flatwound for this Strat.

Are nickel strings the way to go for "vintage" tones? Anyone know of any brands that do these, or do you think I should just go chromes? Any issues using non nickel strings on nickel frets?

Any set up tips, suggestions or personal preferences regarding flats?

Thanks :)

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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Flats

GHS Bright Flats, sound and feel great. I use them on an Esquire with a Bigsby style trem, and I'm very happy. A touch more lively than standard flats.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I just put some on my '92 '57 AVRI. They are D'Addario Chromes that are .010s and are quite nice. No truss rod or intonation adjustment needed, either, which was nice. Check them out. It's the first time the G string isn't overly loud; makes for a nice balanced sound. And, the G in that set is quite bendable.

Scott
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Old August 27th, 2013, 07:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Chromes seem the most prevalent type of flats available. I use them sometimes but only because I can't find any nickel or solid nickel ones locally.

Flats have a lot of linear strength. I always try to get the lightest gauge I can find, which I think is tens. They still feel like railroad rails. I used to use them all the time and really liked the dark tone.

I took them off all the guitars I had them on except for my Ibanez AF125 Custom full hollow body guitar, and I think I'll take them off of it soon.

I used to like the dark, mellow tone but these days I find it too dull sounding, especially on a strat, and I use round wound nines almost exclusively because they are lighter feeling and have a brighter tone than even the chromes. I like the sparkle in the sound.

I try to use only flats on my bass guitars though, because I like the mellow, smooth tone on the bass guitars.

One thing is for sure; the flats will last for a very long time before you need to change them.

You have to do what you want to do, and if you want to get into that mellow groove then that could be real fun. I used to really dig that mellow tone and quietness when you move your fret hand around and do slides. You can always put a set of round wounds back on if you want, or even get another guitar and use rounds on it.

If you get heavier than tens I would be prepared to have some stiff strings, but then again you might like them that way.

Have fun with whatever you get. The more nickel content you can find or order is going to give you the most vintage tone. I found some nickel ones locally a couple times. I think one set was actually Fender. They tend to be mostly obscure and the store owners don't even realize that they have them, except for the chromes. I'd say that the vast majority of customers don't even know that flats were once popular on guitars, or that they are actually available today. They should give you a taste of yesteryear and a truly old school sound.

What amp are going to be using?
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Old August 27th, 2013, 10:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I like the chromes but I have had them before so wanted to find something nickle wound which seems quite rare. Found a brand called Pyramid that do nickle wound so I've ordered some 11-50 and based on what Duffy has said I have also ordered some 10-46 Pyramids. They're quite expensive but I want to give them a go. Like I said, the strat isn't my main guitar or my only guitar.
My amp is a '59 Bassman reissue LTD. Great sounding amp, in fact it's the only amp that I actually like the sound of the strats bridge pickup through. Through most amps the strats bridge pickup sounds overly bright to my ears. Anyway, I'll give these a whirl.
Cheers
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Old August 27th, 2013, 11:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If you get heavier than tens I would be prepared to have some stiff strings, but then again you might like them that way.
This is definitely YMMV territory. I have flatwound 14s on my archtop (25 1/2" scale) and I like them -- I need heavy stings to get the right sound on it.

I have flatwound 12s on my T-style and they feel too light by comparison! When they need changing I'm putting on 13s. A lot of folks recommend Thomastik Infeld flatwounds (the Jazz Swings -- they also make George Bensons which I think are nickel). They're expensive but they last.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 12:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had a Vox Super Beatle in the early 70s'. Flat wounds on my Strat through the Vox amp gave a very convincing Day Tripper tone.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 05:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Through most amps the strats bridge pickup sounds overly bright to my ears. Anyway, I'll give these a whirl.
Cheers
You might want to consider doing the "bridge tone mod". Just google it and there are directions for this super simple mod.

It lets you use the bottom tone control to control the bridge pickup instead of the middle pickup. You can use a very slightly different variation, also super simple five minute, do it yourself mod, that lets you continue to use the tone control on the middle pickup, but also lets you use it to control the tone on the bridge pickup individually.

I have the bridge tone mod on all my strats. It lets you get a lot more use out of the bridge pickup, in my opinion. It is easily reversible if you don't like it, but I don't suppose you would want to reverse this awesomely simple mod.

Check it out.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 12:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well the flats arrived in the post today. The 11-50 gauge Pyramid Gold True Vintage, nickle wound with round core rather than hex. While I was at it I had change to pop the neck off and check the date and have a peek under the pickguard (I haven't had a look since I got this in January).

I kinked the string before cutting to avoid any unravelling and had no problems fitting these. Also set bridge height and intonation while I was at it.

The sound is alot more balanced accross the strings, it's a really pleasing sound. It is slightly more mellow, the most noticable difference is on the low E string where it has more of a mellow thud than a bright twang. Cool sound though in it's own right.

I wouldn't fit these to my one and only guitar, but as it's my 4th favourite it's a cool feature and plus now I feel I can pull off the Buddy Holly style thing with some authenticity haha. Maybe now it'll move up to my 3rd favourite.

Got the set of tens to try, maybe I'll stick them on the Danelectro U2.
Cheers
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Old August 29th, 2013, 01:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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GHS Nickle Rockers are great too. Rollor Round which is a semi flat but brighter . I really like these strings a lot . Gets you a nice bluesy jazz tone.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 02:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I started playing in the 60's and thought flatwounds were great--the purpose was to eliminate string noise as you slid your fingers up and down on the strings.

Now, every few years I buy a set and take them off within about a week because they sound deader than the strings I took off the guitar and make no sense to me for the tones that I like...

As vintage as I like are nickel wound rolled GHS strings or something.

One reason I enjoy teles and flat top acoustic guitars with bronze strings is the ringing sustain. Flatwounds don't do this sound in the slightest. The wound strings go "thump" and die.

But whatever you like, go for it. A tone pot on the bridge pickup of a strat is essential and this is one thing that Leo missed (along with the original wiring on '52 teles).

George
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Old August 29th, 2013, 02:52 PM   #12 (permalink)
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...this is one thing that Leo missed (along with the original wiring on '52 teles).
How so?
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Old August 29th, 2013, 03:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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How so?
The original wiring on a '52 tele was bridge, neck, and muddy neck....from front to back. Before 1952 I think the front position had the bridge pickup and allowed a blending of neck or something. (This was similar to Esquires having three positions that were too trebly bridge, bridge with a tone control, and muffled bridge pickup....)

It was fixed in the 60's I think, to "modern" tele wiring that allows the bridge/neck combo in the middle.. I believe the original concept was to allow tele players to play bass. The architecture allowed us all to fix these things....

I do think that part of the issue was that amps sucked in the early 50's and you needed massive treble to cut thru the mix. As well as some guitarists who needed to play bass parts on a 6 string guitar.

George
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Old August 29th, 2013, 03:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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amps sucked in the early 50's

lol

wish i had a few more that sucked like that

heh
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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lol

wish i had a few more that sucked like that

heh
Get an actual early 50's amp or exact copy of an early 50's amp, use it on a live performance with your guitar and a cord, and tell me how it went. NO PEDALS ALLOWED.

Postage stamp collector value has very little to do with usefulness.

Guitars were great in the early 50's, with some wiring mods. Amps were not. I bet you are not over 60 years old.

lol right back to ya, kid,
George
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:21 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I am familiar with all that you wrote.

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I do think that part of the issue was that amps sucked in the early 50's and you needed massive treble to cut thru the mix.
I don't agree. My old T-Bone Walker records sound great to me. His old Gibson amps cut through "the mix" just fine back then. "The mix" is a relative term and the requirements of today's typical electrified band is not a good setting for gauging the performance of old amps.

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As well as some guitarists who needed to play bass parts on a 6 string guitar.
This is what I was getting at. In this light, the original wiring scheme is brilliant. Don't forget that the P-Bass had yet to be invented at this time.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:29 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I am familiar with all that you wrote.



I don't agree. My old T-Bone Walker records sound great to me. His old Gibson amps cut through "the mix" just fine back then. "The mix" is a relative term and the requirements of today's typical electrified band is not a good setting for gauging the performance of old amps.



This is what I was getting at. In this light, the original wiring scheme is brilliant. Don't forget that the P-Bass had yet to be invented at this time.
Let me say that in the late 40's and early 50's, Leo clearly did some amazing things to address the needs of the musical world with regard to electric guitars. Times and technology have changed, and I have no interest in debating any of this. Use what works for you.

I will remind you that old Gibson amps were trebly and lower gain to enhance Gibson humbuckers and Fender amps were higher gain and less trebly to enhance Leo's single coils. And for rock and roll, Gibson buckers and Fender amps were the formula to set the stage for the future. I started playing rock and roll in 1966 so I was THERE. And I am still here.

Clearly, things have changed, but if we view Leo as the Visionary above all, we would all be playing G&L instruments and Music Man amps and we are not. There is a place and time for everything, and I have owned, and still own, some G&L guitars. And a Music Man bass, which was a Leo Fender stepping stone to the Present. Study history, and play your instruments (which includes amplifiers), and use what works for you. Forget collector value and focus on the freaking MUSIC.

Leo Fender was an inventor and a capitalist who developed musical instruments that would work. He had some brilliant insights in the early days, and some duds along the way. But he is a legend and I will never forget what he accomplished. Humorously, some say his later pickup designs were MORE trebly because he was getting older with an attenuated sense of hearing in the higher frequency range. I am older, and I have that same ailment :)

George

Last edited by YoGeorge; August 29th, 2013 at 05:05 PM.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Flats are cool .. I always have one guitar strung with flats ... just do it!
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Old August 31st, 2013, 10:09 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Well the flats arrived in the post today. The 11-50 gauge Pyramid Gold True Vintage, nickle wound with round core rather than hex. While I was at it I had change to pop the neck off and check the date and have a peek under the pickguard (I haven't had a look since I got this in January).

I kinked the string before cutting to avoid any unravelling and had no problems fitting these. Also set bridge height and intonation while I was at it.

The sound is alot more balanced accross the strings, it's a really pleasing sound. It is slightly more mellow, the most noticable difference is on the low E string where it has more of a mellow thud than a bright twang. Cool sound though in it's own right.

I wouldn't fit these to my one and only guitar, but as it's my 4th favourite it's a cool feature and plus now I feel I can pull off the Buddy Holly style thing with some authenticity haha. Maybe now it'll move up to my 3rd favourite.

Got the set of tens to try, maybe I'll stick them on the Danelectro U2.
Cheers
My experience. On my only strat? Of course not.But the Pyramids have their own sound, very different from the other flats. I have a maple necked with Fat 50's they sound particularly good on...go figure. And they'll absolutely NAIL the Day Tripper vibe with a Bassman.

The 12 string set on my Danelectro is killer. I bought that one to use until I could afford a v64, but I feel no need for one now (did I ever really need one
?).
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